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Everyday Use by Alice Walker - Essay Example

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“Everyday Use” by Alice Walker In “Everyday Use,” Alice Walker depicts the story of a rural African American family. The story is delivered from the perspective or voice of Mama, a strong and hefty black woman with two girls, Maggie and Dee. Maggie and Dee are entirely contrary to one another, when it comes to personality…
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Everyday Use by Alice Walker

Download file to see previous pages... Mama decides to send Dee to school and when the latter comes back to visit them, she seems to be a changed woman. On the one hand, she respects rural life more, as she covets different rural things. On the other hand, she remains condescending in her attitude toward her family. The plot concerns the summary of life of Mama and her girls and Dee’s return from college life. Walker shows the theme of rural versus urban beliefs and lifestyles, the conflict of interests between modern and traditional cultures, as the traditional insist on functionalism, while the modern insists on objectification of the rural life, and the similarities of Dee to white oppressors. Urban life and rural life clash with each other. Mama loves her rural life and upbringing. The rural setting is her life and she is comfortable inside it. The exposition part of the story is when Mama describes her relationships with her daughters. Her relationship with Dee is tensed, since the latter hates their rural life. Mama is more at ease with Maggie, because she is a farm girl herself, but she does not like it that Maggie has no self-confidence at all. It can be also seen from Mama’s voice that she is proud of what she can do as a farmer: “I can work outside all day, breaking ice to get water for washing; I can eat pork liver cooked over the open fire minutes after it comes steaming from the hog.” She clearly takes pride in what she does. Like Maggie, however, she does not finish school and remain illiterate all her life. Dee wants an urban lifestyle. When she learns to read, she reads to her family, but with such an arrogant manner: “She used to read to us without pity; forcing words, lies, other folks' habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice.” Dee has such as sharp disdain for her own family, because they are poor and ignorant. The story also remarks of the conflict of interests between modern and traditional cultures. Conflict begins, when Dee wanted to take the quilts that Grandma Dee and Big Dee made. Mama refused to give it to her, because she promised these quilts as her gift for Maggie’s forthcoming wedding. Dee insisted on having her way, as usual, and Maggie gave in to Dee, but Mama did something extraordinary. The climax of the story is when mama insister her will upon Dee. She must have never done it before, and as a result, she also shows a precedent to Maggie that she cannot allow anyone to just push her around, especially when she also deserves her own place on earth. Because of this argument, Maggie got her quilts back. The story is written from the viewpoint of Mama. The language and structure reproduce the rural beliefs, practices, and attitudes of Mama. It is a story that describes the simple pleasures and needs of rural people, who are content with who they are and what they are doing with their life. This story also reveals that Dee is parallel to the white oppressors that Mama hates. Dee also looks down on her own family and believes that they are not making more of themselves. She sees herself as a superior being, because she is educated and “learned” about the importance of heritage. Despite her education, she has no “real” breeding, because she did not learn how to respect her family and their simple dreams and happiness in life. The resolution of the story occurs when Maggie and Mama relax after Dee left: “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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